Air Arabia case at SC delays govt plans on Air agreements
Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has postponed all its plans regarding new air service agreements (ASAs) due to the unresolved case of Air Arabia at the Supreme Court. Ministry was planning to ink new air service agreements with Vietnam, Indonesia, US and Australia.
“At present, the case regarding Air Arabia is at the Supreme Court and is yet to be decided. We have decided to postpone our plans related to new ASAs and review of existing ASAs until the case has been resolved,” said joint secretary at the ministry Suresh Acharya, adding that the division has already received directions to review existing ASAs and sign new ones.
However, according to Acharya, the ministry is still waiting for the final decision regarding the case related to Air Arabia to start work on new plans and programmes. The ministry has already received proposals for new air service agreements from Vietnam, Indonesia, the US and Australia and had already started the preparations for the new air service agreements with those four countries.
Vietnam approached for an air service agreement about eight months back during the meeting of Asia-Pacific region.
Similarly, Australia’s proposal was forwarded in 2006. According to the ministry, Australia has a very open air policy which was not acceptable in the context of our country then.
Along with the new air service agreements that are in the pipeline, the country is also planning to revise air service agreements with the UK, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
“A parliamentary committee earlier had approved the proposal of the ministry to revise the agreements and make new agreements,” he said. The committee had also prevented Air Arabia from flying on the Kathmandu–Kuala Lumpur route against the ASA.
The revised ASAs will include aviation commercial operations, aviation security and third party code sharing provisions. Nepal had signed an air service agreement with the UAE in 1999, which was revised in 2007, and it includes the right to operate flights on the Kathmandu–Kuala Lumpur route. The ministry had permitted Air Arabia to operate six flights a week on December 16, 2010. However, the parliamentary committee had directed the ministry to withdraw its decision on December 13, 2011, calling for a revision.
Nepal has entered into air service agreements with 36 countries and 90 per cent of them have the fifth freedom right that is the right to carry passengers from one’s own country to a second country and from that country to a third country.